If you live here year round like I do, you know that Southwest Florida does indeed have a winter. It may not be a white winter, but there are some differences in weather that can affect your landscaping. We are right in the heart of winter season right now which runs from mid-December through March. It’s good to note this if you are not familiar with our area, because the way you care for your landscaping changes with the seasons.
To begin with, we do get lower temperatures at this time of year and at night the temps can go into the low 50s or high 40s sometimes. And just as importantly, winter is the dry season here, so you must keep to a regular watering schedule (be sure to check into what your city’s irrigation schedule is to be sure you avoid fines, but hand watering is allowed on any day.). Winter is a good time to call us to provide you with certain landscaping maintenance items like mulching and pruning. So let’s take a look at some maintenance and gardening tips for your winter garden.
- Time to plant—To begin with, because the sun is less harsh in the winter and the temps are lower, it’s a great time to plant some specific shrubs, trees and plants. For example, if you have been thinking about adding some hedges, woody shrubs or trees to your yard, the cooler temperatures make this a great time to do it. Just make sure you keep an eye on moisture levels and water them well after planting. This is also a great time to add annuals and bedding plants such as dusty miller, pansies, violas, petunias, snapdragons and begonia to name just a few popular Florida winter annuals! But winter is a great time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring. Some great examples are Clivia lily, crinum and agapanthus. The bulbs will need routine watering to help them become established.
- Time to mulch— The end of December is a good time to have us come out and mulch your landscaping as January and February tend to be colder months and mulch moderates soil temperatures keeping roots warmer and moister in the winter months and cooler in the summer. This is particularly important for certain more delicate plants. Sustaining moisture is important during our drier months of winter as well. A new layer of mulch also keeps fertilizer where it belongs, giving your plants a better chance of being fed, and keeping that fertilizer out of our storm water systems and thus out of our rivers and the Gulf.
- Time to prune— Many trees go dormant during the cold season, and that makes it the best time to prune them. A lot of people overlook how important it is to have their trees professional pruned by experts who understand exactly where to cut the branches to create strong healthy trees. If you love roses, then you know that regularly pruning them has them produce a larger amount of beautiful blooms and this time of the year is the best time to have your rose bushes and shrubs pruned, fertilized and mulched. Winter is also a good time to have your deciduous fruit trees such as peach, plum and Asian pear pruned, as well as You should also have your non-spring flowering trees and shrubs pruned this month.
- Time to protect delicate species— While our winters here in Southwest Florida are not really brutal, our temperatures can drop into the 40s at night in January on occasion, and you should prepare some of your more cold sensitive plants for this by either bringing them indoors or covering them with a sheet. Did you know there are 29,000 different variety of orchids? And most do really well in our subtropical climate here in Southwest Florida. If you are an orchid lover, then you know they can be quite sensitive, so if a frost is predicted during these colder months, bring your orchids inside to protect them.
- Time to control weeds and pests—As a professional landscaper, I can tell you that the Florida growing season is twelve months long. Even during the dry season, plants and grasses grow more slowly but don’t completely stop growing the way they do up North. But that slower growth is helpful for getting ahead of controlling things like weeds, pests, and fast-growing non-native invasive plants. Keep in mind that because we rarely get anything close to a deep freeze, pest control for your plants is essential all year long here in Florida. Winter is the time to apply horticultural oil to citrus, shrubs, and deciduous fruit trees while those plants are dormant to control scale. #SWFLlandscaping #Floridalandscapedesign.